As Egypt waits for General Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to reveal who the nation’s next president will be, the trial of the man who appointed al-Sissi as defense minister, former president Mohammed Morsi, began on Tuesday.
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The timing was symbolic; Morsi and his 130 co-defendants - all of whom are charged with committing crimes against national security - went on trial three years after the uprising against Morsi's predecessor, former president Hosni Mubarak, began.
After wearing civilian clothing in previous hearings, Morsi appeared in a white prisoner jumpsuit on Tuesday. He appeared agitated the entire time, pacing back and forth within the large cage, originally built for Mubarak, in the police academy hall that is serving as a courtroom. When the trial began, he yelled, “Who are you? Do you know who I am?” at the judge.
“Shaban Ashmi, president of Cairo’s criminal court,” replied the judge, to which Morsi retorted that he was the elected president of Egypt and did not recognize the court.
The hearing was postponed to a later date, after the prosecution had read out the charges against Morsi and the others.
The court proceedings were overshadowed by the assassination of Mohammed Said, a former, high-ranking national security official who was serving as an advisor to the interior minister. Said was shot dead Tuesday in the entrance to his home by unknown assailants.
Egyptian authorities believe the assassination is connected to recent clashes between the security services and Muslim Brotherhood supporters and officials.
Fifteen suspects have been arrested in connection to the assassination, which is regarded as a serious failure to provide adequate protection to a senior official in his own home.
Names of potential presidential candidates are now beginning to circulate in Egypt, despite the widespread assumption that al-Sissi will be the next president. One expected candidate is General Sami Anan, head of the Egyptian army under Mubarak who retired just after Morsi’s election. Having served during the Mubarak era, Anan is not expected to pose a great threat to al-Sissi.